After church on Sunday, my sons and I stopped by Walmart Grocery to pick up some bagels because we were out. Lunchtime is so much more pleasant with peanut butter bagels on the menu. This grocery visit was designed to be lightening speed... go in, pick up a bag of bagels, buy the bagels and leave. After my oldest son grabbed the bagels, he asked if we could get two bags instead of one since we went through the last bag in about 24 hours. Now, in case you're wondering about our bagel consumption, I must share that we had company for lunch and that's why they disappeared so quickly.
I agreed to the two bags of bagels. So he went back and grabbed bag number two. As we are walking toward the checkout lane, my younger son asked me if he could carry a bag. My response? To let my older son make the decision and, as you might guess, his initial decision was no. I told him it was his choice, and I challenged him to think about how Jesus would handle this situation. He got a somewhat contorted look on his face as he wrestled with what to do... should he do what Jesus would do or what he wanted? After about 30 seconds, he handed one bag of bagels to his brother. While he wasn't a fan of sharing, he did it anyway because it was what Jesus would do. After he handed the bagels over, I stopped and let him know how proud I was of him and how God was proud of him too. He was quick to point out that doing the right thing wasn't always fun.
My son hit the nail on the head, didn't he? Obedience... doing the right thing...is not always fun. It can go against every fiber of our being. We can know what the right decision is and fight it with all we've got. We can wrestle, justify why we should get our way, list all the reasons we should do our own thing, but the bottom line is it's always best to obey what God tells us to do. Why? Because God gave us boundaries out of His great love for us. He gives us guidelines to follow because He wants us to have the best life possible. But being the gentleman that He is, God will not force us to obey. We get to decide, just like my son did. And listen to this:
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 New International Version (NIV)
Blessings for Obedience
28 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:
Did you know that Deuteronomy 28:3-14 lists actual blessings that the Israelites would receive for their obedience? There are about 30 blessings listed in those 11 verses. Choosing to obey may be tough at the time, but the blessings from obedience are totally worth it.
Take my son, for example. His decision to obey was small in the grand scheme of things. No one would have gotten hurt if he didn't share the bagels. However, if he didn't share, he might have experienced some guilt for not doing what Jesus would do because he clearly knew the right decision since he wrestled between the two choices. And the blessings of his obedience were immediate. He received praise from me for doing what was best. And I believe he felt good inside too, even if his face didn't immediately show it.
So are you willing to obey... even if you don't want to? Even if it means being different from your friends? Even if every fiber of your being tells you to disobey? Because obedience unlocks the blessing. And if you're wrestling with obedience, cling to this verse:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Ask God to show you the way out when you're tempted to disobey... and then take it. Run away if you have to... and be on the lookout for the blessings that come from obedience. Because being free from guilt and shame is a BIG blessing in my book. Don't you agree?